Obama's Policy Extension Unlikely To Affect Many in California

According to the California Department of Insurance, most state residents whose health plans were canceled because they do not comply with the Affordable Care Act's minimum coverage standards will not be affected by President Obama's two-year extension of an administrative fix allowing consumers to keep such coverage, the San Jose Mercury News reports (Seipel, San Jose Mercury News, 3/7).

Background

In November 2013, Obama announced a plan that would allow insurers in 2014 to continue selling insurance plans even if they do not meet the law's requirements.

California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones (D) urged Covered California to implement Obama's proposal.

However, Covered California's board unanimously decided not to allow insurers to continue selling policies that do not meet the ACA's minimum coverage requirements.

On Wednesday, the Obama administration announced new delays and changes to the ACA, including a two-year extension of the administrative fix allowing individuals to keep health plans that do not meet the law's minimum coverage standards (California Healthline, 3/6).

How Extension Could Affect California

California law states that after Jan. 1, 2014, insurance policies that are noncompliant under ACA standards cannot be sold or renewed. However, the state Legislature and Gov. Jerry Brown (D) could change the law to follow Obama's two-year extension, according to the Mercury News.

Janice Rocco, deputy commissioner of health care policy at DOI, said that "very few" of the 1.1 million state residents whose plans have been canceled would benefit from such an extension because insurers already have been required by state law to only sell or renew ACA-compliant plans.

However, Rocco said small businesses with health plan renewal dates at the end of this year potentially could benefit from an extension (San Jose Mercury News, 3/7).

Jeffrey Trobaugh
If an individual is unemployed or has income below the subsidy threshold but still has insurance then they might definitely benefit by being able to keep their policy. Additionally, if the numbers of these individuals are few then what's the harm in allowing them to keep their policy and pay the premium as opposed to signing up for MediCal or having to buy a new policy that will cost double they're current plan. A paying customer would seem more beneficial than one who is getting care for free. Does anyone see this point?

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